This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.
Met your love in college? If so, getting married at your alma mater might be a good choice.
Many of us can relate to the college experience. We leave for college, one of life’s biggest adventures yet, ready to take on the next four years with eager anticipation, hopeful to become the best versions of ourselves. Sometimes we enter college knowing exactly the path we want to take, and most often we leave having gone on a different journey or path than we could even imagine. We learn about ourselves and experience life in a way that we never had before. We have the freedom to make bold choices, the tenacity to become successful, the naivety to dream without boundaries, and the ability to make mistakes without retribution. We grow academically, sure, but more significantly, we grow personally. We establish meaningful, life-long, relationships. The relationships made in college are unlike any connection that we previously experienced. They are deeper. They are rooted in growth and they are unapologetically authentic.
This same foundation holds true for couples who meet in college. Their love is rooted in unique experiences, side-by-side transformative growth, and searching for or often finding the answers to many of life’s questions together. Seeking to establish goals and dreams, when unexpectedly, they, too, establish a unique bond, having found their soulmate. These types of loves are unique. These couples are completely immersed in each other’s daily lives, and especially at a pivotal time of growth internally. The amount of time spent together is substantial, from “hanging out” in between classes, to sharing meals together, to sharing the same circle of friends. When the time comes for these couples to commit to sharing their lives together, it seems fitting, therefore, to finish writing the first chapter in their love story at the place where it all began: at college.
How To Go About Getting Married At Your Alma Mater
There is no doubt that college holds a special place in these couples’ hearts. In addition to the memories and nostalgia that being on campus together brings, here are some more reasons why they, and you, should book your alma mater as your wedding location.
A Built-In Wedding Planner
A generous amount of universities and colleges have a conference and events department that oversee external events on campus, like weddings. An event coordinator will be designated to work with you and your partner to plan an unforgettable wedding from start to finish. S/He will coordinate the logistics of the big day and work closely with vendors to guarantee that your day runs smoothly and seamlessly. Essentially, you have your own personal wedding coordinator, AND often it’s a service that is already included in your booking.
It is important to set a budget for your big day. Weddings can be expensive, but you shouldn’t have to start the next chapter of your life in debt. Colleges and universities offer EVERYTHING you need, and it is offered at an incredibly fair price. If they don’t offer a service, they can recommend a local vendor(s) that they have established a partnership with, sometimes at a discounted rate. Another perk? Many colleges and universities offer a discount to alumni to book their wedding on campus.
Incredible Cuisine Offerings
Colleges and universities do not skimp on wedding fare. The conference and special events department work closely with the catering source on campus to develop a spectacular menu, specifically for weddings, and also provides cultural catering upon request. The creativity in the catering department on campus is top-notch! Many catering departments on campus are flexible and allow couples to make special requests. For instance, I worked at my alma mater’s conference center while attending college and saw first-hand the flexibility when developing catering menus for couples. My favorite was when a bride requested an upscale version of strawberry shortcake in lieu of a traditional wedding cake to surprise her husband because it is his favorite dessert. The catering team went above and beyond and created the most delicious strawberry shortcake I’ve tasted to this day!
Traditional and Non-Traditional Ceremony Locations On-Site
Campuses have so many picturesque locations on campus that provide beautiful scenery and backdrops, making for the perfect photo-op. This is also true when working with your on-site coordinator when selecting a ceremony location on campus. For a more non-traditional approach, your wedding coordinator will be able to point out scenic locations on campus, many outdoors, that can accommodate your ceremony size and needs. If you are opting for the traditional route, there are chapels or religious-affiliated venues on your college’s premise where you can exchange vows.
Hassle-Free Overnight Accommodations
Here is a fun fact: a lot of colleges and universities rent out their residence halls to summer events that require overnight accommodations. If you are planning a summer wedding and need to book a room block for guests that are traveling from out of town, your campus can provide a room block at an amazingly affordable rate. If your alma mater does not rent overnight accommodations, don’t fret! Many campuses have established relationships with neighboring and adjacent hotel properties and can recommend the best options for blocking rooms for your guests.
Colleges and universities love their alumni. I can almost guarantee that any couple planning their wedding on campus, at their alma mater, will have a top-notch planning experience and a very memorable wedding. One that showcases their love from start to finish, from the day they met and started writing their love story, to penning that last exclamation point in the first chapter. Best wishes, the next chapter in your love story is going to be filled with many more memories and growth.
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BIO:Alyson Salem is the Director of Marketing for Unique Venues, a marketing company and lead generating service that promotes unique and non-traditional venues to special event and meeting planners across the United States and Canada. Having experience as a meeting and event planner at her alma mater, planning a variety of events and managing day-of weddings on campus, and currently works directly with unique spaces and places, including college campuses, marketing their venues to planners and couples to book their weddings and events.